In 1948, while in some countries the monarchies were losing strength, in Colombia a blue and very different monarchy was beginning to consolidate. It was far from resembling the ostentatious crowns, jewels and royal palaces, but it is in the hearts of many Colombians.

This reign has been in Colombian homes for 75 years. Initially it was created to wash clothes, but other uses and benefits have been attributed to it: leave hair shiny, remove bad energy from business, attract luck if you bathe with it, among other beliefs.

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And behind the kind product is a whole ‘monarch’. It is about a fusagasugueño who created the famous King soap.

Otoniel Rey’s journey begins in that municipality of Cundinamarca. He was the eldest of three brothers and, after the death of his mother, he had to take care of his home. After this loss and with the responsibility of being the “man of the house”, Otoniel decided embark on an adventure to the cold capital at the age of 14.

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He learned by working, not studying, he worked in a company called Fábricas Unidas in Ricaurte. He was the treasure of creation

Looking like a stranger, with glass glasses, a very formal suit and with his particular mustache, he got a job in one of the Jabonerías Unidas cleaning products factories in Bogotá, the factory owned by businessman Moris Gutt, who is the owner and founder of Dersa.

That was the first contact he had with working life and with soaps, a product that, without thinking about it, It would be one of the most recognized in the country. One of his half-sisters recounts that “Otoniel asked us to buy him bundles of bait to take to the factory and he put them aside in a bowl.”

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Otoniel Rey is the fourth from left to right.

At the time, bar soaps for washing clothes were booming and, without any knowledge, Otoniel began to review some magazines that Mrs. Tornecina, owner of the factory, had brought him from the United States and began to experiment with the ingredients. that he had at his workplace. At that time, the woman did not know the potential she had awakened in the young fusagasugueño.

Hours and hours of study were spent by the young King, experimenting with the meat bait and other elements that allowed him to develop a unique product that was used to wash clothes and that, in addition, yield more than others that already existed in the market.

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The bars of soap were made with bait and her stepsister was in charge of removing the fat from the meat of the animals. Regarding the remaining animal part, Mrs. Ana Victoria Rey, Otoniel’s sister, assures that this was donated to the community and that great roasts were made.

“He began to make bars like this, yellow and blue. He brought some to my mom and told her: ‘Wash some white shirts with this blue soap and leave it with the soap for a little bit and see if it fades and with another white shirt with this yellow soap to see if it dyes’”, she mentions .

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Milton Rodriguez/Supplied

Laughing, Ana Victoria remembers that this soap was very good, because it could waste clothes: “It wasn’t dyed yellow or blue.”

This is how a yellow bar of soap was born, yes, yellow, the most popular soap in Colombia had something of an identity crisis. But after doing a survey among his relatives, Rey decided because the bar of soap would be blue in color, as we know it today.

It was not dyed yellow or blue

Otoniel’s proposal began to take hold within the cleaning products factory, so much so that the factory owner Moris Gutt decided that the bar of soap would have the last name Rey on it, as a way of thanking him for creating one of the products. highlights for the time.

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Bubbles of love: the story of the King and his queen

Otoniel was not alone in this creation process, like every king, he had a queen, Doña Carmen Torres de Rey, a native of Fusagasugá and who was his support throughout the journey.

He asked for Carmen’s hand a year after they met and in 20 days they were married. Since Don Rey liked to create things that would last over time, he made the queen fall in love with him every day. Their marriage lasted 60 years and they had 14 princes and princesses.

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Otoniel Rey, creator of King Soap


Milton Rodriguez/Supplied

Luis Enrique Rey, one of his sons, remembers that Otoniel was very drastic when it came to parenting, but also admires that he was very responsible, even though he spent more time at work than at home.

But creating a product so well known to Colombians also took Mr. Rey’s time, as his son Luis Enrique remembers that it lasted up to three days in a row at the company: “We told him that he better take the bed over there.”

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We told him that he better take the bed over there

As an empirical chemist and soap expert, Otoniel Rey began the production of his soap and shared his joy with all who needed it. According to his granddaughter, Yenny Rey: “He worked until he was 80 years old and kept going to the company because he was the spoiled one.”

The weekends for him were sacred, he dedicated himself to his family and sharing with those close to him. “He never had a fortune, his money was dedicated to making large markets so that the whole family would be with him and help many. There was always a feast in the house”, says Yenny.

The creator of the Rey soap with his family.


Milton Rodriguez/Supplied

In love with his queen and after finishing his working hours, Rey took his wife to the movies, took her out dancing, while the children were left in the care of their friends and family. “She told us that the happiest day of my grandfather’s life was the day he invented Rey soap,” adds.

The legacy that needed no publicity

The Rey soap, with the approval of all the housewives, began to spread without advertising, it was a very accessible and good product, so word of mouth was the way in which it became one of the favorites of the Colombians.

In the midst of that broken phone chain, magical benefits began to be granted to him. According to Jenny Rey, At home they did not use shampoo, they washed their hair with the soap that left it soft and shiny. The Rey family also used their invention to wash pots.

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Milton Rodriguez/Supplied

The product, which is already a national symbol, reached the United States, where the magazines that created it came from. the same Otoniel Rey traveled to Miami and, surprised to see his soap being exported, decided to buy a box of soaps and bring them to Colombia.

The Fusagasugueño worked until he was 80 years old in the factory that gave him his first and only job. There he supervised the creation of other Dersa brand products and, although they did not bear his last name, he was the darling of the company until the end of his days.

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His granddaughter, Yenny Rey, says that her grandfather never stopped sharing with family and friends. After his retirement, around 2010, Otoniel and Carmen Torres had one last date, a dance full of love and kisses; Rey passed away of natural causes in 2010 and his wife passed away in 2020.

After the death of his wife and for one last request, Rey soap began to be advertised with the slogan “for whatever” and later “the king of those who know”, in whose commercial more than 310 uses are attributed to it.

The Dersa company continues to manufacture Rey soap. Although the bar is the most popular presentation, powder and liquid detergent are also produced.

You can also read:

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